Browsing Archive June, 2007

Mets Game 79: Win Over Phillies

Mets outfielder Carlos Beltran hits his second homerun of the game against the Phillies

Mets 8 Phillies 3

Wow. This was what the Mets were supposed to do to the unknowns in the St. Louis rotation. Well, at least their timing was right.

The New York Mets cruised to their third straight win over the previously second-place Philadelphia Phillies, getting a measure of revenge for the Phils’ sweep at Shea a few weeks back. As usual, the Mets got on the board first, via a two-run homer by Paul LoDuca and a solo blast by David Wright in the first inning off rookie J.A. Happ. Philadelphia fought back by scratching out two runs in the second, then tied the game on a homer by Ryan Howard, but the Mets bullpen held the fort from there on, shutting the Phillies out over the last four innings.

After Howard tied the game in the bottom of the fourth, the Mets answered immediately in the top of the fifth. Paul LoDuca drew a leadoff walk, then Carlos Beltran hit his first homer of the game to put the Mets up by two and send an unhappy Happ to the showers.

Beltran hit another homer, a solo shot, in the seventh to extend the insurance, and the Mets added two runs in the ninth to keep Billy Wagner out of the game.


Jorge Sosa was so-so, allowing three runs on three walks and four hits in five innings. He did well enough to keep the Mets in the game and earn his 7th win. He left the game after pulling his hamstring in the top of the sixth. You hate to see that happen to a pitcher, but on the other hand it is nice to see a guy busting it down the line — he successfully kept out of a double play on a sacrifice bunt attempt. Of course, it would have been prevented by a better bunt.

Beltran became the first player to hit two homers in back-to-back games since Carlos Beltran. Going 4-for-5 with 3 RBI and 3 runs, it’s safe to say he was the MVP of the game.

LoDuca also had a good day, going 2-for-4 with a walk, 2 RBI, and 3 runs scored. It’s easy to score hitting in front of an unconscious Beltran.

No one else in the lineup had a multiple-hit game, but every starter except for Carlos Gomez had at least one hit. Gomez did, however, reach base on a hit-by-pitch in the eigth.

Scott Schoeneweis was absolutely brilliant, pitching an entire inning without giving up a run. If I were him, I’d hang up my spikes on that one and call it a career (oh yes, please please please please please …).

Aaron Heilman also threw a scoreless inning, but the real hero was Pedro Feliciano (again), who pitched the last two innings and allowed only a hit. Feliciano faced the meat of the Philly order — namely Chase Utley and Ryan Howard — and set them down quietly. His slow curve was extra-sharp in this game.

Not sure whether he escaped, or if the Mets met the kidnappers’ demands, but Carlos Delgado returned to the team unscathed. He looked confused most of the game — which is to be expected considering what he must have went through over the last 24 hours — but did manage to eek out a bloop single to leftfield late in the game.

Not that anyone cares, but the Phillies are now in third place, six games behind.

Next Game

The Mets will go for the sweep with Oliver Perez (7-6, 3.14 ERA) on the mound against rookie Kyle Kendrick (2-0, 5.00 ERA) in a 1:35 PM start.

**** UPDATE *****

Ollie has been scratched due to a stiff back. Mike Pelfrey will make the start this afternoon.

No word yet as to who comes off the roster to make room. Speculation is that Sosa’s tweaked hammy will put him on the DL — as he has only one more start before the All-Star break, and when he comes off, will be the fifth game after the break (which is his turn anyway).


Backup Catching Option

Royals first baseman and captain Mike Sweeney battingWith Paul LoDuca to be serving a two-game suspension sometime soon, and the Mets in need of a solid righthanded bat with Moises Alou still missing, I have the ideal guy:

Mike Sweeney.

Go ahead, call me crazy. But the Royals may be shopping Sweeney, and he has said he’s willing to go back behind the dish. For the uninitiated, Mike Sweeney began his pro baseball career as a catcher — but hit so well it was silly to keep him back there.

Sweeney was quoted as saying,

“I’ve been talking to my agent,” Sweeney said, “and I’m thinking about becoming a catcher again.”

“It’s always been my passion. I still fool around and catch in the bullpen. I’m not a Gold Glover, but I think I know what I’m doing.”

Hmm … a very potent righty bat, a guy who can play first base and catch, and with his injury issues will come fairly cheap … I’m liking it …

The only glitch in the plan is that Sweeney was recently placed on the disabled list, and won’t be back until mid-July.

Still, he’d be a nice righty bat coming off the bench come September.


Soler Released

Alay Soler pitching for the New York Mets

Boy do I feel dumb. Over the winter, I thought the Mets should have been after Tony Armas, Jr. for starting pitching depth instead of Chan Ho Park and Aaron Sele. Early in the March, I predicted that Alay Soler would be the surprise of spring training.

Fast forward to the end of June — Armas is hanging on by a thread and Soler has been released. There’s a reason my job is to blog while Omar’s staff gets paid to evaluate baseball talent.

Where will Soler go next? Hard to say, though you’d imagine the Phillies would be interested — they did sign Jose Mesa to a bonafide contract, after all. Perhaps Tampa Bay? In any case, it’s pretty safe to say he won’t be returning to the Mets’ organization … though, you never know.


Mets Game 78: Win Over Phillies

Mets 5 Phillies 2

John Maine fires a fastball for the New York Mets against the PhilliesMessage to Cole Hamels: you ain’t so tough.

The Phillies’ young ace was throwing hard and inside from inning one, and took offense to Jose Reyes dancing down the third base line in the first inning. So when Reyes ran the count to 3-0 with Shawn Green on third, Hamels threw right at Reyes. However, Jose got out of the way, the ball went behind his back and rolled to the backstop, and Shawn Green scampered home with the first run of the game.

So much for the tough guy.

Things didn’t get better for Hamels, as Carlos Beltran got back by belting two solo homers — one in the third and one in the fifth. All in all, it wasn’t a bad performance by the young lefty, but the Mets were able to have a lot of long at-bats against him early (huh … what a novel idea), running his pitch count to over 100 by the fifth inning. Geoff Geary came on in relief in the sixth, and gave up a two-run homer to Damion Easley. From there, the Phillies were visibly beaten — physically and emotionally, and it was only a matter of the Mets collecting the rest of the outs to end the game.

And John Maine was the man to get them. Maine pitched eight strong innings, and started the ninth before being replaced after a leadoff double by Jimmy Rollins. Maine struck out six, walked none, and allowed only four hits and one run in one of his most dominating efforts of the season. Good timing, John.


Jose Reyes — who went 2-for-4 with a stolen base — had a feisty day. He argued with the home plate umpire after striking out looking in the first game, argued with the second base umpire after getting thrown out stealing in the same game, and then got really amped up in response to Hamels’ beanball. After being thrown at, Reyes was clearly out of his game, waving over-aggressively at change-ups his next few times at bat.

Reyes stole second immediately after the beanball, then took off for third but Paul LoDuca bounced out on the pitch. I’m 100% convinced that had Paulie let that pitch go, Reyes would have stolen third and then home, just to get back at Hamels.

Easley went 2-for-4 with the dinger, giving Willie Randolph enough reason to start the .250 hitter another 10-15 times over the next three weeks.

Willie, by the way, was not messing around with this game, sending Billy Wagner to the hill for the second time of the day despite a four-run lead. As it turned out, Country Time gave up a run before finishing off the Phils. Not a bad plan by Randolph, as winning the first two guarantees that the Phillies cannot gain any ground via this series. And who knows, with two unknowns starting on Saturday and Sunday, the Mets may have a chance to sweep.

John Maine had some trouble with his command in the first inning, as he was falling off too much toward first and leaving pitches up and away to lefties. However, he corrected the issue quickly and seemed to get better as the game wore on. In the sixth, he hit 96 MPH on at least one fastball — a third strike to Greg Dobbs. Although, Philly may have been running a dialed-up gun, since J.C. Romero was hitting the same number — and I seriously doubt the Red Sox would have released a lefty throwing 96 as long as the Yankees remain in the AL East.

Speaking of Romero, it’s interesting that the Phils were able to sign him to a minor-league deal after being released by the Red Sox — before Omar Minaya got to him. Romero had a 3.15 ERA and 1-0 record with the Bosox, and though those numbers may have belied his true effectiveness, he did it in the AL East and he couldn’t be any worse than The Show. Most likely, Romero saw a better opportunity to be promoted by the Phils, as he otherwise would be a very typical, under-the-radar pickup for Minaya’s staff.

Phillies rightfielder Michael Bourn prevented the game from getting out of hand by making two incredible running catches — one on a surprising blast by John Maine and another off the bat of Carlos Beltran.


Between-Games Thoughts

While waiting around for another game to start, consider the following …

  • It’s clear that Paul LoDuca needs at least a two-game rest — that said, it may be a blessing in disguise if his suspension appeal is denied.
  • With all that rosin on his head, was El Duque trying to put one over on the Phillies or trying to get a Head and Shoulders sponsorship?
  • Carlos Delgado’s biorhythms must be good. Or he’s simply a good hitter against pitchers with ERA’s near 100
  • Speaking of, JD Durbin’s ERA went down almost 75.00 as a result of his 4 2/3-inning, 6-runs allowed performance
  • JD Durbin will never be confused with JD Drew, nor Chad Durbin

Some fun links to browse while waiting for the 7:35 start …

For some humor, see JD Durbin’s Official Blog (unfortunately, it’s similar to his secondary pitches — not updated in two years).

For more involved, but more intelligent rhetoric, read Faith and Fear in Flushing’s reminiscence of 1979 — for many of us, one of the more depressing seasons in Mets history. (Simply seeing names like Roy Lee Jackson and Juan Berenguer make my skin crawl.)

For those that prefer less-winded commentary, Zisk Online has a haiku for Glavine’s 297th

For those who don’t want to read at all, but prefer to look at the pictures, Metsgrrl has a shot of Joe Smith’s butt


Mets Game 77: Win Over Phillies

Mets 6 Phillies Phive

After going up 6-1, this game got a little too close for comfort.

Helped by a huge strike zone from home plate umpire Adam Dowdy, El Duque pitched six solid innings, striking out seven, walking two, and allowing three hits and two runs. His opponent, JD Durbin, did not fare as well from the expanded zone.

Durbin — who came into the game with a 94.50 ERA — was battered early and often by a sneak attack that has been coined “The Met Offensive”. Carlos Delgado’s 3-for-4 day was only part of the story, as the Mets pounded out 8 hits and 6 runs in Durbin’s four and two-thirds. As usual, the Mets scored first when David Wright hit a booming double to deep right-center in the second just before Delgado’s tater. Aaron Rowand countered with a solo homer in the bottom of the inning, but Jose Reyes blasted a shot over the right-center fence to make the score 3-1. Delgado nearly hit another homer in the fourth, but settled for a double, and was driven in by another two-bagger by Ramon Castro. With two outs, Ricky Ledee was intentionally walked, but El Duque spoiled the strategy by slapping a single to score Castro and send Ledee to third. The obviously rattled Durbin then uncorked a wild pitch, scoring Ledee with the Mets’ sixth run of the game.

After Rowand’s second-inning homer, El Duque set down 12 consecutive Phillies batters — but then gave up another solo shot to Chris Coste. Hernandez settled down to strike out Jimmy Rollins, induced a grounder from Michael Bourn, and then pitched around Chase Utley and Ryan Howard — walking both. The mini-rally was extinguised when Aaron Rowand went down swinging.

However, Guillermo Mota relieved Hernandez in the bottom of the seventh, and promptly gave up a hit to Greg Dobbs and a two-run homer to Wes Helms to close the gap to 6-4. Mota finished the inning without allowing another run, but the Phillies’ big bats were due up in the next inning.

Pedro Feliciano came on in the eighth, and did the exact thing he didn’t want to do: walk leadoff batter Michael Bourn, with Utley and Howard waiting behind him. Miraculously, Pedro escaped without allowing a run, getting both of the big guns to fly out before yielding to Aaron Heilman. True to form, Heilman let Bourn steal second and pinch-hitter Pat Burrell to single Bourn home to make the score 6-5. Luckily, Greg Dobbs flied out to end the inning.

The Mets could muster nothing close to a threat in the top of the ninth, so it was up to Billy Wagner to hold the slim lead. Welcomed by the Philly boo-birds, Billy struck out the side on 14 pitches to save the game.


The Mets might have had a rally going in the top of the seventh, after Jose Reyes led off with a single, but Reyes was called out stealing in a controversial call by umpire Dale Scott. It was close enough that Willie Randolph came running out of the dugout — and you know that’s a rare occurrence. Reyes was so peeved about the call, he expressed his displeasure again during warmups before the bottom of the seventh, and had to be restrained by Carlos Delgado.

Speaking of, somebody call 911 ! Carlos Delgado was kidnapped and an imposter is wearing his uniform!

My heart is palpitating, and I have cold sweats just thinking about what those nasty kidnappers are doing to poor Carlos. He’s a big man, yes, but gentle and kind. I don’t know if he can handle the vicious mental and physical abuses often applied to prisoners. Hopefully he’ll be found soon, before irreparable damage is done. Meantime, the man in Delgado’s jersey this afternoon had three hits, including a double, a homerun, two RBI and two runs scored. He likely would be the MVP of the game if not for the effort put out by Orlando Hernandez.

Next Game

Only hours away, the Mets and Phils square off again at 7:05 PM, with John Maine pitching against Cole Hamels.


Inside Look: Philadelphia Phillies II

Philadelphia Phillies baseball capWith the Mets holding a fragile three-game lead over the second-place Phillies, this weekend’s four-games in Philadelphia is the most important series for both teams so far this year.

Chase Utley and Co. swept the Mets in four games at Shea in the last meeing between the two teams, but the Phillies’ squad has changed quite a bit since then, as their pitching staff has been decimated by injuries.

We’ve called on David Cohen of The Good Phight, who was kind enough to join us again and give us the backstory on all these new Philly Phaces.

1. Durbin, Happ, Kendrick. Who the heck are these guys, what are their main weapons, and what do you expect from them?

The Phillies have a pretty weak farm system, especially at the higher levels. JA Happ has the highest upside of these three, I believe, but he’s had injury and control problems this year. The team’s best prospects are lower in the system, so they couldn’t be called up. We’re just all hoping for the proverbial lightning in a bottle right now.

2. Speaking of who’s who, who is Greg Dobbs and why should we care?

Dobbs is another player Gillick acquired who used to play with one of Gillick’s old teams (this time the Mariners). He had promise, but never got much of a chance. He’s getting more now and is showing some great hitting ability against righties. Against lefties, on the other hand …

3. I hate to be so ignorant about the Phillies roster, but you can’t tell these guys without a scorecard. The Bourn Identity, please?

Bourn is a solid prospect. He was a 4th round draftpick in 2003 for the Phils, in one of the years they didn’t have any first- or second-round picks (so he was the Phils’ 2nd pick that year). He has speed, pretty good strikezone judgment, and is a great fielder. He’ll never hit for much power, but he could project to be a decent major league center fielder.

4. Ah, finally, someone we recognize — Jose Mesa. Just what in tarnation is he doing on the Philadelphia roster, and what is your personal opinion / analysis of his place on the team?

Pat Gillick was on crack the day he signed Mesa and his 12+ ERA. There’s no other explanation.

5. With the Mets faltering, the month of June was ripe for the Phillies to play catch-up. Unfortunately, the Phillies had to play American League teams too. How would you summarize their last 2-3 weeks?

Great hitting; inconsistent pitching. (But that’s been the summary of the past few years for the team.) That, and some really tough injuries to the starting rotation, with Freddy Garcia and Jon Lieber both probably out for the year.

6. A repeat of a four-game sweep puts the Phillies in Phirst. What do you think are the chances, and what are the keys to such an occurrence?

It’s all about pitching for the Phils. They have the best offense in the NL. Their pitching is one of the NL’s worst. If they get good starting pitching, they win. If they don’t and have to rely on their offense winning a slugfest, they can certainly win, but not consistently.

7. Pat Burrell’s average is now nearing the Mendoza Line, yet he still hasn’t been shot. Is it time to hire a more efficient assassin (or is that Bourn?) ?

Hasn’t been shot? Well, it’s pretty much the baseball equivalent. The Phils have started him in 1 of the last 10 games. For a guy making $13M+ this year, that’s pretty much death.

8. Jayson Werth is finally back. Will he have any impact on this weekend?

None whatsoever. He was placed on the 15-day DL yesterday.

9. Any surprises / sleepers to watch out for this series ?

We’ve already talked about Dobbs. Against righties, watch out. Carlos Ruiz dominates at home (.952 OPS at home; .553 away), so watch him as well.

10. With Rollins, Victorino, Utley, Howard, and Rowand, the Phillies may have the most dangerous and productive one-through-five in the NL. Can they carry the team? What is their collective vulnerability (if there is one) ?

If only some of those five could pitch, the team would be fine. Let’s be honest – their collective vulnerability is the pitching staff. They hit slightly worse against left handed pitching (55 point lower team OPS against lefties), but even so, the offense is not this team’s vulnerability. The pitching is.

Thanks again to David, and be sure to check out The Good Phight phor more inphormation on the Phillies.